16:23 GMT +315 November 2019
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    Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks during a ceremony in Sicaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, October 26, 2019. Picture taken October 26, 2019.

    'Elected by the People': Bolivian President Morales Refuses to Step Down Amid Protests

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    MEXICO CITY (Sputnik) - Bolivian leader Evo Morales said on Friday that he did not intend to step down despite the calls of opposition and protests that had been ravaging the country since the October presidential election.

    "I would like to tell you, brothers and sisters, as well as entire Bolivia and the whole world. I will not give up [the presidency]: we have been elected by the people, and we respect the constitution", Morales said in a speech, broadcast by the Red Uno TV channel.

    The statement came after Carlos Mesa, the opposition candidate who has disputed Morales' re-election, announced that he would urge the national legislature to call for a new presidential vote by 22 January 2020, when the incumbent leader's current term expires. He also called on supporters to join peaceful rallies.

    Protests in Bolivia broke out in the aftermath of the 20 October presidential election after the authorities announced that Morales had won in the first round.

    The opposition has disputed the results and criticized the vote-counting process, citing the alleged lack of transparency. During the counting of votes protest rallies sprang up across Bolivia and later morphed into civil unrest.

    Morales described the ongoing demonstrations as an attempted coup staged by the right-wing opposition. The government has also repeatedly expressed its openness to an audit of election results.


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